Ultimately, the large pack won’t be whittled for many months: Republicans have no idea who will end up running, and insiders don’t expect the field will gel significantly until at least the spring of next year.
“It feels like a big traffic jam after a sporting event,” said Craig Robinson, ex-executive director of the Iowa GOP. “There’s a lot of competition for every segment of the party.”
And according to one observer (my emphasis):
It has often been taken for granted that the 2012 Republican field was exceptionally weak and the 2016 field will be much stronger, but it has never been clear that the likely 2016 candidates will be that impressive as a group once they are actually declared and running their campaigns. The more that they are scrutinized and their competence as candidates (or lack thereof) becomes better-known, the more that we’ll start to hear how overrated this field was all along. People are able to claim the higher quality of the 2016 field for the same reasons that many people assumed that the fantasy candidates of 2012 would have been much better than the ones that declared: it easy to claim that the non-candidates would be more appealing/competent/interesting because no one is thinking about their weaknesses yet, and there is no way to prove the assertion wrong until they declare. Once the 2016 field starts to take shape, we can expect another round of the same complaints about the “strong” candidates that stayed on the sidelines.